Community Care Connect set to mark second year of food security and support for East Toronto residents – Beach Metro Community News

Community Care Connect operates a food bank at 1871 Gerrard St. E. Photo: Submitted.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE

It is difficult to ignore the drastic increase in the prices of the goods and services that we need on a daily basis. Although some are fortunate enough to adapt easily to ever-increasing inflation, many find themselves in dire need of assistance.

Darue Ramsay, an east Toronto resident who was born and raised in Etobicoke, decided to invest in the lives of those less fortunate in his community. He founded Community Care Connect, a non-profit organization that helps the Upper Beaches neighborhood through food assistance programs, reintegration services, and an outreach program that provides community service hours to people in the need.

“I wanted to get out into the community and talk to people about things they need, provide them with sandwiches and give them clothes,” Ramsay told Beach Metro Community News.

Although this passion project was started by one person, Community Care Connect has evolved into a team that now includes 12 volunteers.

Prior to the walk-in food bank it currently operates, the organization operated as a delivery service helping families in low-income areas during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We knew the pandemic was difficult for individuals because a lot of people were being laid off from their jobs,” Ramsay said. “It was difficult for people to get food.”

According to Ramsay, the mission is to reach out to different communities, creating welcome centers for people in places like Regent Park, Etobicoke, Riverdale and more.

He described a dream of having a space where people can use computers provided by Community Care Connect to create resumes and meet other Internet needs. For now, however, Community Care Connect continues to make progress toward this goal of maximizing its reach.

“We were lucky with this community because Beach Hill is a mixed community. You have low income [residents] but a lot of people have good careers,” Ramsay said. “Due to [their help] we are able to have an IT department, a marketing department and a community development department. »

Over the past year, Community Care Connect has also expanded its mission statement beyond just food assistance. They now offer reintegration services to people leaving prison in order to “build bridges to society”.

Through a partnership with the John Howard Society, an organization that deals with issues of crime and prison reform, Ramsay’s team connects newly released inmates with opportunities to access subsidized housing. They also designed a program, Build Your Own, a certified entrepreneurship course that helps people start a business from scratch.

“People have an idea to start a business, but they don’t know what to do or how to do it,” Ramsay said. “We train them on how to do it.”

At the end of the course, participants then receive a business plan to help them get started with their registration. Although this particular partnership with the John Howard Society is part of the reintegration services, the course is offered free of charge to the general public.

As a growing organization, Community Care Connect relies on the help of residents to fulfill its mission to provide for those less fortunate.

Ramsay told Beach Metro Community News that comments from local residents are usually the question, “How can I help?”

Through partnerships with various businesses in the neighborhood, Community Care Connect has facilitated donations to the cause by providing drop bins to potential food donors. These bins can be found at Woodbine/Danforth Valu Mart, Little Ones Closet, Morning Parade Coffee Bar, Mimi Beauty Clinics, Corner Spot and Beach BIA. Monetary donations can also be sent directly to the organization through their official website.

It has now been two years since Ramsay’s mission began. On August 20, Community Care Connect will celebrate its second anniversary by hosting a free barbecue outside its food bank at 1871 Gerrard St. E., west of Woodbine Avenue.

The rally, which will consist of free food and prizes donated by partners, will run from noon to 3 p.m. Residents of all neighborhoods are invited to the event.

“The whole aspect of a community is to come together – to be one,” Ramsay said. “I want to encourage the community to take notice of this organization and help as much as they can.”

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